Lights! camera! action! .. at USC Film school

Film 3 is a Wrap (Shooting)

Late Sunday night, after finishing shooting, and after the actresses (Lynn & Austyn) had left, I heard Wendy say, "I'm happy with the way it came out." - while reviewing the raw footage on TV, with a big bowl of buttered popcorn in her lap. She munched a few more mouthfuls & said, "I'm going to have fun with this." All that remains now is the editing. She enjoys editing.

Film 3, titled Breathe, is a story centered around the healing arts & massage. After all shooting was done, the girls sat down & Wendy popped in a tape of BodyMind for the actresses to watch. BodyMind is another massage-based piece, shot on b&w super-8 film, and later transferred to DV & re-edited on her PC. I think they liked it. No telling how Breathe will compare to BodyMind. BodyMind came out surprisingly good. Will be hard to top. 

One of the neatest parts of filming came when Wendy accidentally left the camera on while providing instruction (directing) for the actresses. Could make a great out-take someday.

The house looked liked a mini-studio Sunday. Cables running everywhere. Painfully bright studio lights strategically placed - some pointing up, others pointing down. Wendy calls this 'bouncing light'. At one point, one of the lights got placed too close to the molding above the doorway to the massage room, and the wood got too hot (the lights get real hot), and the paint on the wood molding started smoking. The house quickly filled with the obnoxious smell of burnt paint. Now we have a nice brown spot on the white molding to remind us of the shoot. So, other than almost catching the house on fire, the shoot went well. =D

Both actresses drove down from LA. Lynne called from the freeway to say that she was running a little behind (10 mins). Austyn was right on time - almost to the split second. Impressive, considering how unpredictable LA traffic can be. It was obvious the girls came prepared to work. They seemed professional, although I heard lots of laughing. They seemed to be having fun with the shoot.

Wendy recently got a 50-foot length of s-video cable that she ran to the TV (32-inch). This (big picture) gave her a lot more control over the lighting & focus. The little 3-inch flip-out window on the camcorder doesn't let her see much detail - nothing like a 32-inch TV. She actually ordered only an 8-foot length of s-video cable for the DVD player. The store was all out of smaller lengths, & shipped a 50-foot length for same price. Didn't realize she could use the TV as a recording monitor (with the long s-video cable) until right before the shoot.

Lynne, who played the massage getter, is an undeclared sophomore at USC. She (like Wendy) applied to the undergrad Production program and got turned down (also like Wendy). Wendy shared her little tricks to getting into the Film prgm ay USC with Lynne. Lynn said, "You're my hero. You're doing what I want to do."

Austyn works at Universal Studios. I've never been there. We want to go - maybe when the semester is over. Maybe she can get us in. 

Wendy said the best part of the day came after the shoot. Wendy made a fire, and the three girls sat down by the fireplace (it rained off & on Sunday) and had a bowl of my world-famous, nuclear-grade, home-made chicken soup - from grandma's secret recipe. Serious nutrition. Wendy said the girls loved the soup.

With a steaming bowl of chicken soup, the actresses discussed the life-experiences from which they drew their emotions during the shoot. I was down at the beach at the time, but I hear it got personal, and the girls got well-acquainted there by the fire. Wendy used the word magical.

Wendy tapped ~ 60 mins of footage for a 6-minute film - about 10 mins of raw footage for each minute of final product. We read somewhere that the movie Apocalypse Now had a world-record ratio of something like 90-to-1, and that most movies get a 30-to-1 ratio.

Wendy finally got to bed about 1AM & had to get up extra-early (5AM) to meet with her acting/directing partners Monday morning. The acting went well. They were the first group. Wendy said it was good to get that out of the way. Later, she was so tired that she slept in the car for an hour or two between classes. She's never done that before. She managed to squeeze in a work-out, swim & sauna at USC's gym yesterday, between classes.

The shoot took a lot out of her. It's different working with actresses she didn't already know. Seems like shooting should be the same, but it was different. Seems like a whole new world. Weird having people we've never met come to the house, and when they leave, they feel like close friends.

Students are having problems uploading video footage onto hard drives at the bullpen (at USC). Thursday, six people were supposed to show their films, but that only two wrote their names on the board - which indicates they're ready to show. The prof said that this has "never happened b4". He said everybody was having probs with the editing system, but that the students need to plan accordingly (allow for glitches, problems). Wendy learned about the inevitable techno-glitches over the past year of editing on her PC at home. Things don't always work the way expected, & problems arise at the most inopportune time.

The other 4 students had to go over to the bull-pen during class & put out to tape whatever they had done to that point. They showed their films incomplete, which can be painful. Wendy said that even the Harvard girl, Jennie, had a tough time. Another girl, who one she calls a 'true artist' (Stacey, with sculptor background), did a personal piece about her child and her family, but didn't have time to add any audio/sound with it, so it was silent. Wendy said it had to be devastating to show something so personal in an unfinished state, and felt for her.

Wendy said she's gonna send them an email & encourage them, cuz she wants her class to be the best that's ever came thru USC. She knows how hard it can be to pour your whole heart & soul into a piece, and have it not work, then get ripped to shreds.

The next major focus will be editing Film 3.  

Will leave you with an email we got from Sidney today -> titled From Page C5 in today's LA Times. Sounds interesting. See here:

AtomFilms' search for short films it can broadcast on its Web site will take it to USC today. The Seattle company is expected to announce an exclusive deal to distribute 100 films made by students at USC's School of Cinema-Television, including films done long ago by then-students George Lucas (Star Wars) and Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump). Financial terms of the licensing deal were not disclosed, but Larry Auerbach, a USC associate dean, said the deal will enable the school to speed up efforts to archive its 75-year-old film collection. "USC Cinema Yearbook" will be available on the web at http://usc.atomfilms.com 

Next ->  Sad & Disturbing

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